Guerrilla Candy’s 17 favorite albums of 2017

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Paramore After Laughter

Paramore’s “After Laughter” simply delightful.

 

I consider myself to have pretty broad tastes when it comes to music. But as I sit back and reflect on all of the new music I’ve enjoyed this year I noticed a small pattern emerging. I somehow, unintentionally mind you, moved away from multi-genre sampling into a more genre-specific listening habits. This year, instead of branching out into the obscure or unfamiliar like I often tend to do when searching for new music to excite my ears, I stuck mostly to the two genres I enjoy the most: pop and rock.

Back when I would get paid for writing about music I would cover pop stars like Hillary Duff and JoJo as vigorously as I would Radiohead and Eminem. I didn’t discriminate in my coverage, or listening habits, because in order to be a well-rounded and informed critic I felt that exposure and understanding of multiple genres of music was necessary. And while there is definitely room for genre specialists in the world of music criticism, I still believe that anyone who wants to be taken seriously as a pop music critic (which was at one point my ultimate career goal) that person must be informed and aware of everything that falls under the pop music umbrella.

Maybe the overall climate of 2017 caused me to revert back to genres where I find familiarity and comfort. Or maybe there weren’t any great records released outside of the genres I listened to this year (that’s not true btw). Are my musical tastes getting dull and predictable as I get older? Does this mean I’m no longer one of the cool kids (gasp!). Did 2017 mark a permanent shift of my listening habits, or will I return to my multi-genre consuming ways in 2018?

Existential music-listening crisis aside, I did manage to enjoy several great records this year. While they all broadly fall under the pop and rock genres (Margo Price being the sole outlier here), they seems to represent the great breadth of their respective genres.

Charly Bliss wowed me with their peppy, fun and rowdy take on 90s rock. Listening to albums by Craig Finn and Jeremy Enigk felt like reconnecting with old friends who had delightful new stories to tell. Japandroids kept me going with an album that burned brightly all 12 months of the year. Spoon’s “Hot Thoughts” doesn’t do much to improve on the Spoon formula, but it’s does just enough to make it an undeniably great addition to 2017’s musical landscape.

Plum’s psychedelic-tinged rock and Priests’ punk were refreshing listens every time I clicked play. Hobosexual released the best local rock album of the year, creating a loud, heavy and absolutely righteous rock ‘n’ roll masterpiece. Sheer Mag and White Reaper give me great hope that the future of rock is bright. My favorite Icelandic band Mammut released a stunningly beautiful record in English. And Paramore simply knocked it out of the park with a record that is as much of an ’80s pop masterpiece as it is a flat-out modern-day great record. I seriously can’t say enough great things about Paramore’s wonderful “After Laughter.”

So in a year when I more or less stuck to two genres (again, unintentionally) here are my 17 favorite albums from 2017 in no particular order. I’d give links or include embedded videos, but ya’ll are good with the Google so I’ll let you do the searching for samples on your own if you’re so inclined.

  • BNQT “Volume 1”
  • Charly Bliss “Guppy”
  • Japandroids “Near to the Wild Heart of Life”
  • Paramore “After Laughter”
  • Gruntruck “Gruntruck”
  • Hobosexual “Monolith”
  • Kesha “Rainbow”
  • Mammut “Kinder Version”
  • Margo Price “All American Made”
  • Plum “Wand”
  • White Reaper “The World’s Best American Band”
  • Craig Finn “We All Want the Same Things”
  • Priests “Nothing Feels Natural”
  • Mastodon “Emperor of Sand”
  • Spoon “Hot Thoughts”
  • Jeremy Enigk “Ghosts”
  • Sheer Mag “Need to Feel Your Love”

Oh, and if you really must know my absolute favorite album from 2017, depending on the day, I will likely tell you it’s either “After Laughter” or Japandroids’ “Near to the Wild Heart of Life.” Both are excellent in their own ways and since it looks like the Pazz & Jop poll is officially dead, or perhaps I was just not asked to vote this year, I want to list them both as my top records of 2017 for the record.

Travis Hay

About Travis Hay

Travis Hay is a professional music journalist who has spent the past 14 years documenting and enjoying Seattle's diverse music scene. In 2009 he established Guerrilla Candy and is currently the site's editor and publisher. He has written for various media outlets including MSN Music, the Seattle-Post Intelligencer, Seattle Weekly, Crosscut.com and others and was the founder and editor of defunct music site Ear Candy.